Wednesday 20 August 2014

Book Review- Private India- Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

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ISBN- 978-0-009-58639-5
Genre- Fiction/ Thriller
Pages- 470
Publisher- Arrow books

The best part about reviewing books by famous authors is that you can comfortably skip the introductions but keeping in tandem with the rituals of the book review format and thanking blogadda for this wonderful opportunity, I'd like to introduce this book by two popular authors. The first one is Ashwin Sanghi whose The Krishna Key set new landmarks in Indian historical fiction; it is a rare honour for a writer to have all his books in the bestsellers category. His writing style is simplistic and there is rarely any ambiguity or artsy delusions. His USP lies in the sensational content that he uses in his books.

I cannot recommend following him on Twitter due to the awful amount of 'quotable quotes' that he posts. Easy there, buddy! :D

James Patterson has had a successful stint internationally with his "private series". 
Check out the other books by him if you haven't already. As it says in his introduction- "The pages turn themselves".

This book falls in the genre where if you're a follower/ fan, you will actually have to buy and read it no matter how this review goes but let's get started-

About the cover-
The cover photography has been done by Alamy/ and has Mumbai all over it. If you delete the author and book details, you can use the same cover for a book on Mumbai tourism. It has the essential Taj Hotel, Gateway of India photos replete with the Bandra-Kurla sea-link. The silhouette figure of a running person which is the trademark of the private series is pretty nice. The cover design has been done by and the fonts are pretty bold and the embossed title totally makes you wanna buy the book. Good job!

About the book-
The back cover introduces the plot where in Mumbai seemingly unconnected murders are taking place and in a DaVinci Code fashion, there are strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses. This seems to be a favourite area of Ashwin Sanghi's and I think it is bordering towards being 'played out' in terms of conceptualization.

Yes, there exists a Mumbai branch of "Private" and Santosh Wagh is heading it. The cases are given to Private India by the Mumbai Police as the Indian cops, who are understandably overworked, deem fit. Which is kind of funny!! Police wouldn't transfer their cases, at least in Mumbai. But hey! fiction...

The first thing that hits you when you flip the pages of this novel is the text size on its pages. It is slightly larger than usual and might be easier to read in dim lights and everything but it made me feel like I am reading my kindergarten alphabet book. Well, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point. The font is slightly larger and it is slightly awkward. Not a big issue. The book starts with a murder, (well it is a murder mystery so don't think it was a spoiler) and the pace is set right there. The chapters are short and quick paced and it is very hard to put down once you pick it up. If you are a keen observer, you can actually identify the places where Sanghi ends and Patterson begins. Both writers bring their flavours and diversity which is interesting as we switch from short, to the point sentences (Sanghi) to sleek lines ending with a punch (Patterson). I might be totally wrong here though but it was an interesting exercise to ponder. No, Sanghi doesn't bring his whole arsenal though. This book is strictly about Mumbai and there is no way the detectives have the time and energy to roam around the country and look for mysterious clues which revive readers' interest in Indian history. It's a shame though because that would have been awesome.

For all the "Private" fans, yes, we have Jack Morgan in the book and he does well while sharing the spotlight with the other protagonist Santosh who works under him. The novel ends at page 447 and there is a special treat which you might not be able to make the head or tail of but yay! Santosh's character is an ex-cop and the initial build-up about his conflict was interesting, could have been explored more deeply though. Oh and one warning, do not look for logic! It is neither a literary novel nor a thriller with brains, the novel is just like Jackie Chan doing cool moves in a suit- you have to say "wow! Awesome" and then stop thinking and expecting because there's no more tricks up his sleeve. Also, if your dad is in Mumbai police, do not read this novel. :D

The language is pretty easy and the descriptions are vivid but short. The characters are painted in black and white and there are minimum layers and very few complex back stories to distract oneself from the main plot. Ashwin takes care of the Indian mythology-related thrill which is scarce and there is fair amount of terrorism stuff thrown in. The books seems to be in the 7/11 hangover and there are bombings and Mumbai stuff that kind of drag on. The thrill that the Indian fans can derive from it is immense and Patterson's presence only makes it more glamorous. I'd also term it one of the most stylish thrillers that have come up in recent times in terms of content. Private's Jack Morgan makes the whole chase more 'international'. You can almost imagine a Hollywood-Bollywood amalgamation as you go through the pages. Yes, the book is like the Mission Impossible movie with Anil Kapoor in it, only he gets to do more cool stuff! :D

I would rate this book with 4 out of 5 stars but as I said, lower expectations.


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